Do you have a TBR pile? Yeah, I hear you. Stupid question. Who doesn’t? In fact, I’ve got an entire TBR bookcase I like to call Storyland. It’s a magical place, filled with books I’ve promised to review, those I want to read because the back cover copy hooked and reeled me in, and a few that I feel obligated to plow through.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not whining. There are many more titles I’d add to Storyland if I had the money, but where would I find the time to read them all? Surely with so many books and so little time, the topic of reading outside your comfort zone is a moot point, isn’t it?
No. It’s not. I’m a big advocate of broadening your reading horizons even when—or especially when—your time is limited. Why? Many reasons…
1. It gets you out of a rut, opening your eyes to other possibilities that just might spur you on to greater creativity.
2. It demolishes prejudice. How do you know you don’t like a western if you’ve never read one? If story is king, the genre doesn’t matter. When choosing to read outside your comfort zone, choose titles that are classics or bestsellers (because there’s usually a reason they’re in that position).
3. If you want to be a well-rounded writer, you must be a well-rounded reader. Don’t forget short stories, poems, and plays can teach and hone different skills than a novel.
4. You just might discover a new favorite author. It’s happened to me. Because I write reviews, I don’t always get to choose the books I read. I’ve come across some fantastic new authors this way.
5. There’s always something to learn, from a new time period, to a people group you’re not familiar with, or even scientific theories you’ve never heard of. Reading outside your comfort bubble is educational.
Generally this is an amalgamation of the Victorian era with modern technologies powered by steam. Plus there’s an excess of spin-offs such as dieselpunk, atompunk, decopunk, and loads of others.
Put on your thinking cap because this one is a little tricky to wrap your brain around. Metafiction is a literary term describing writing that purposely poses questions about the relationship between fiction and reality using irony and self-reflection.
Think elves or magical fairies roaming around the alleys of New York City. Better yet, how about dwarves in the sewer system? This genre is usually set in contemporary times and contains elements of fantasy.
This is a genre wherein music is supreme, both as subject matter and via the flow and rhythm of the prose. Music is manifested through the language itself.
Search your memory banks way back to junior high when you read Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe and you’ve just about hit the bull’s eye. The success of that novel spawned so many imitations that the title was used to define an entire genre, more simply described as a “desert island story.”
So go on…nudge, nudge…step out of your suffocating little box. Fling a completely out-of-your-zone book onto your TBR pile today. You can thank me for it later.
Preferably with chocolate.